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Posts in 'Nutrition & Food Information'

6 Health Benefits of Chocolate
Great news for those with a sweet tooth, eating chocolate can be healthy. You can finally indulge in your favourite snack guilt-free. However, there’s a catch!

Well of course, there has to be a catch, for me it’s a good one – ‘that it has to be dark chocolate’ and the higher the cacao percentage the better. And also, it’s healthier if you stick to eating just two to three pieces a day. But apart from that, fill your boots.

It can help you lose weight

Chocolate doesn’t have to be a reason for weight gain believes neuroscientist Will Clower. In his book Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, he explains how eating a piece of dark chocolate 20 minutes before and five minutes after a meal can cut your appetite by an impressive 50 percent. According to Clower, this is because chocolate triggers the hormones that tell your brain “I’m full.” However, remember that this applies to cacao-rich dark chocolate only. Milk chocolate would raise your blood sugar levels and leave you craving the stuff even more.

It gives you brain power

Chocoholics are the smartest people around. Or at least they should be, thanks to the flavanol content of the snack. Teamed with reports that it also helps to improve blood flow to the brain, it appears that dark chocolate makes excellent brain food. So much so, that researchers have even put its properties to the test with Alzheimer's patients. In a trial published by Nature Neuroscience, it was discovered that “high-flavanol intervention was found to enhance dentate gyrus (DG) function” - DG being the region of the brain in which “function declines in association with human aging.” Although the study explains, while the flavanols have the potential to perhaps aid those with Alzheimer's, it can’t prevent the disease entirely.

It promotes gorgeous skin


Flavonoids are pretty powerful. Without you realising, they get to work on your skin, acting as a filter to harmful UV rays and protecting you against sun damage. That’s not to say you should skimp on the sunscreen - always apply when out in sunlight. What’s more, as we know all too well, dark chocolate is a great stress reliever, which also helps keep the skin young, fresh and fine-line free.

It’s nature’s tastiest medicine


Dark chocolate is an illness-battling all-rounder, with evidence to suggest that its high antioxidant content has the potential to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve blood flow. It’s believed that the flavanols found in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium (the lining of the arteries) to produce nitric oxide, which in turn relaxes the arteries and as a result, lower blood pressure. This relaxing effect may be minimal, but every little helps.

It gives you an energy boost


If you’re trying to drink less coffee but struggle to get through the day without your caffeine hit, dark chocolate could be the answer - there is 43mg of caffeine per every 100g. A recent study from London’s Kingston University also suggests that dark chocolate could be useful for athletes. Thanks to dark chocolate’s ability to improve blood flow (and in turn, carry oxygen to the muscles at a faster rate), those involved within the project were able to cycle further and faster. Skip energy bars and try a little dark chocolate.

It makes you happy – the best reason of all


Science agrees that chocolate makes you happy, and not just because it tastes amazing. There are chemical components within chocolate that make it irresistible, such as phenylethylamine - an organic compound that when released in the body stimulates a similar feeling to that of falling in love. It also acts as an antidepressant when combined with the dopamine that exists naturally in the brain. Along with its theobromine and tryptophan content (other properties of chocolate that promote happiness and stimulate a natural, albeit weak, high in the body); it’s easy to see why chocolate is considered a certified mood booster.

 
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The Well-being Revolution

The well-being revolution is truly underway and continued research and analysis backs up what we already know; building a happier, healthier, more connected workforce delivers excellent results for everyone.


Workshops


In our corporate wellness programmes we offer a range of workshops and seminars about the science of food, manage eating habits, and diet management designed to positively impact physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Our fun and engaging sessions cover topics ranging from sleep, nutrition to energy levels and can be tailored to your requirements.

Coaching


We will coach your employees to improve their planning skills for better diet management to improve overall health. We recommend starting with your executive teams to identify their most pressing nutritional and well-being needs and assist them to set and reach their health and wellbeing goals. This philosophy can then be championed right across the organisation to create change across the board with demonstrable benefits

CSR


CSR is critical to core business values and sharing those goals to enable employees to participate will develop a strong sense of community within the organisation. With our extensive experience of CSR objectives and implementation we will help to fulfil and deliver your CSR commitments.

If you would like to more about our wellness corporate solutions please contact:

Francesca Yates on 01923 778880, alternatively email her on Francesca@thecookingacademy.co.uk    http://www.thecookingacademy.co.uk/corporate/the-corporate-athlete/
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Tropical Smoothie
Tropical Smoothie

Breakfast time can be such a rush and it’s all too easy to grab something convenient on the way to work, such as a muffin.  The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) and Action on Sugar conducted research into blueberry muffins available on the high street. Shockingly, over 61% contained over six teaspoons of sugar. The recommended daily allowance is 30g which is about seven teaspoons!  In other words, one muffin takes uses up almost all of you your daily recommended amount of sugar.

To help combat the breakfast dash we have made a Tropical Smoothie, full of antioxidants and vitamins. The spinach in this smoothie really ramps up the nutritional benefits. Spinach is full of folate, iron, potassium, calcium and vitamins A, B2, C and K. Iron is fantastic for boosting brain power, so this recipe is great for anyone who’s revising for their exams or in a demanding job.

You can prep a weeks’ worth of smoothie and freeze them in ziplock bags. Once frozen, simply place the ingredients in your blender add the milk and water and blend before heading out. Or if you’re really pressed for time (or just want that extra few minutes in bed!) then you could even blend the smoothie the night before and keep in the fridge until morning.

 

Ingredients:

25g spinach

100ml milk of your choice

125ml water

200g pineapple or mango (frozen is fine)

½ banana sliced into chunks

1 tsp ground linseed

1 tsp honey (only use if your spinach is a little bitter)

Instructions:

  1. Place the spinach, milk, water, pineapple or mango, banana and ground linseed into your blender. Blend until smooth.

  2. Taste the smoothie, if you feel it needs the honey add it to the blender and blend again.

  3. Serve immediately and enjoy!

  4. To freeze for future use, place all the ingredients (whole not blended!) except the honey into a ziplock bag and place in the freezer. This can be kept for up to 3 months.


Food for Thought:

  • Bananas are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, and vitamin B6. These all contribute to the proper functioning of your body and your health. They are also an immediate energy booster.

  • Pineapple can boost the immune system, and respiratory health, aiding digestion, strengthening bones, reducing inflammation, curing coughs and colds, and weight loss.  If you feel like a sweet treatEat pineapple chunks instead of a chocolate bar for a sweet treat.

  • Mango is full of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, A and C. They are rich in minerals like potassium, magnesium, and copper, and they are one of the best sources beta-carotene. These powerful antioxidants have the power to neutralize free radicals throughout the body fighting heart diseases, premature aging and cancers.

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How good is your sleep hygiene
ONE third of our lives are spent in bed. We all know a good night’s sleep is a great way to recover and rest after a full day. Getting a full night’s sleep is not a luxury, it is a health necessity and for those of us in the world or work or studying it is essential to productivity and wellbeing.  It is recommended that adults have between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and more for teenagers and children. Yet it is estimated that a staggering 40% of adults are not getting enough sleep, Public Health England state that the annual cost to the UK employers is a resounding £30 billion pounds and 200,000 working days are lost to sickness and mental health every year.

Sleep is crucial in the maintenance of our cognitive skills.  Being adequately rested enables us to communicate well, remember key information, be creative and flexible with our thoughts, and improves our decision making ability. Furthermore, sleep is essential to building a healthy immune system, making you less likely to catch a cold and thus less likely to need time off work.

In addition although this may seem obvious, sleep is free, there are no side effects of having a great sleep, unlike taking caffeine tablets or drinking caffeinated drinks to try and stay awake.  Good sleep also makes you less likely to over-eat - so it’s good for your waistline.

There are many reasons we can struggle to fall asleep, work related stress, long hours at work, illness or injury and money worries are just a few issues that keep us awake at night. This is where sleep hygiene comes in effect, (nothing to do with your bed sheets!) but all to do with how you create the ideal settings for a good night’s sleep.

Here are a few points to think about:

  • Try sticking to regular bed times, set an alarm on your phone.

  • Making an effort to relax before your bed time approaches.

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks and heavy meals late at night; they’ll prevent you from falling asleep.

  • If you’re finding it hard to slow down, breathe in for a count of four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds and breathe out for four seconds. Repeat as many times as needed.

  • Also think about how your technology usage too - Checking emails late in the evening or before bed is often a cause of unhealthy anxiety and distraction.

  • Computer screens, tablets and phones all emit a blue light which keep us awake by suppressing melatonin, the hormone which sends us to sleep.


Public Health England and Business in the Community have partnered to put together a free downloadable sleep toolkit for employers.   Click here for more information:

(https://wellbeing.bitc.org.uk/all-resources/toolkits/sleep-and-recovery-toolkit?utm_source=Blog&utm_medium=Sleepblog2&utm_campaign=PHE)

Consider how effective your workplace well-being strategy is working.  If lack of sleep is a growing problem within your organization then it’s time to re-evaluate the strategy and its effectiveness.  You could be contributing more towards the £30 billion then you think. 

 

If you would like to know more about our corporate wellness strategies then please follow this link:   http://www.thecookingacademy.co.uk/corporate-events-team-building/cooking-nutritional-classes/
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Water & Wellbeing
We all know how important it is to drink water, for some of us it takes a little pushing to get the right daily intake.  Whilst we are often tempted to brush off the effects of dehydration, it can lead to significant body changes both externally and visually as well as to our internal body functions.  Some of the more latent impacts will happen over a period of time and therefore less noticeable.   However long term, dehydration is very bad for your health and could become a trigger for, depression, diabetes, skin conditions and worse still other more toxic diseases.  Whilst it may seem somewhat dramatic, dehydration is a very dangerous and life threatening condition.  In time of sickness dehydration can literally lead to death so ensuring you are also hydrated is really important.

Symptoms of dehydration

Some of the more immediate and obvious signs of dehydration can be dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, constipation, tiredness, irritation.

If your body doesn’t have the fluid to remove waste then it will begin to develop and harbour toxins, this can lead to a number of health problems such as slowing down your metabolism which will lead to gaining weight.   Most commonly dehydration is often mistaken as hunger as so we will reach for something to eat instead of something to drink, which will eventually lead to weight gain, actually more quickly than you think.

Dehydration will also have a significant impact on digestion.  If your body is not digesting the nutrients you eat through food then your immune system will be weakened over a period of time, since the nutrients are not being absorbed by the body into the blood.  Furthermore water is essential to breaking down the sugar in our food.  If you continuously remain dehydrated your blood sugar levels will become unbalanced and could lead to diabetes.  Our nutritional class is a brilliant way to learn more about the correct types of foods we should be consuming, simultaneously with appropriate water consumption.

Medium term Symptoms

Dehydration will affect your concentration levels, and as that begins to build up this will begin to impact on your mood and irritability, leading to anxiety and then poor sleep patterns as the anxiety continues in your rest time.

You may also begin to see physical changes, dark circles around the eyes and possibly sunken eyes.  Your skin will become dry and shrivelled, as it is lacking water.  Water provides elasticity to skin and so your skin will age more quickly – leading to wrinkles or psoriasis.

Lack of water in muscles and cell system will lead to muscle cramp and joint ache.

The long term effects of not drinking enough water will be much more impactful, and potentially led to brain swelling, heat related injury (the body essentially burning up), a seizure, Kidney failure, Hypovolemic Shock, and potentially leading to a coma and death.

The role of water in exercising

If you’re a gym bunny, lifting weights or doing high intensity training, then during your training sessions are making much more demands on your nervous system, blood and energy levels than you might imagine.

When you exercise if you don’t have enough water in your system then your body temperature will rise and your sweat glands will swell, in a desperate cry for water. Blood is made up of 50% water, which is why the blood that is being used to transport oxygen and the nutrients to the muscles will be diverted, in order that your muscles get what they need.  If the muscles don’t get the water through the blood it will result in a poor workout.

Furthermore, when we sweat we lose a lot of important salts and electrolytes, for example sodium, potassium and calcium ions. These minerals are essential to allow healthy cell communication and will affect how your muscles contract, so replacing the salts/electrolytes is critical.

So in order to get the best perfomance your body need to be fully hydrate during exercise and hot weather.

The role of Isotonic Drinks

Isotonic drinks such a Lucozade, Powerade, Iso plus, contain electrolytes and carbohydrates. So when you are doing a heavy work out or engaging in strenuous activity, other secondary bodily functions such as digestion often temporarily ‘close down’.

Since Isotonic drinks contain small amounts of glucose they are an alternative to eating food,  such as a banana let’s say, and so they a quick and light way to give your body a quick boost of ‘food’ it needs to keep going.  So by taking a sip, (I emphasize sip) every so often you’ll avoid the heavy energy crash during or at the end of your workout.

Electrolytes also contain essential salts as well as carbohydrates so replenishing your salt levels after a heavy workout is essential.  A quick sip or two will help to maintain the cell function and prevent dehydration. Coconut water is also a very rich source of potassium which can prevent dehydration after exercise or hot weather.  Coconut water (not to be confused with coconut milk or oil) is significantly lower in calories than isotonic drinks as it is low in Carbohydrates and sodium so won’t help to give you an energy burst you may need.

Isotonic drinks can be expensive so making your own is advisable simply by making up a rich dilute of squash drink and adding a pinch of salt to it.

 

#drinkingwater #nutrition #corporatenutrition #healthylifestyle #healthylife #healthyliving
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